LL.M. Chronicles #2: The file's call (English Version)

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LL.M. Chronicles #2: The file's call (English Version)

Once the idea of getting an LL.M. took root and you feel ready to brave one year abroad, the biggest test begins: the application process.


The process may vary according to the countries you are applying for: while applicants for the USA must go through mandatory LSAC (and no less mandatory fees), candidates for the UK will have to inquire upon each university selected. However, it is possible to highlight similarities. 

  •  First, translate your transcripts by a translation agency. It costs about 200€ and you will absolutely have to reread the work to make sure there are no typos. Once this is done, digitize the documents, this copy you will use latter in the application. Note that British universities require to upload transcripts on their web platform.


  •  Second, ask your university’s administrative office to kindly print your translated transcripts, to stamp it, to add the original version and to send the whole thing to the foreign university (or to LSAC). Administrations I dealt with (Grenoble, Paris I Sorbonne and Paris-Dauphine) showed great skills and promptness, do not hesitate to call yours!


For those who wish to take the New York Bar, you will again have to send your transcripts to the board of examiners, as described before.


Now that you worked through the most painful and longest stage of your application, let’s have a look at the reference letter.

Do not take this step too lightly, because for many universities, especially in the United States, these recommendations can make a difference. Most universities will ask you two reference letters, usually written by academics, although some schools will let you add a third from a professional.


Some British universities will only ask for digitalized copies, while in the USA, LSAC will ask you to record the identity of the referees, to designate universities to which you will send letters, to print a form and to attach the signed and stamped letters before sending it all under seal.


Lecturers may let you write a model, then take this opportunity to highlight points that are not in your Personal Statement, and support your application. 

It is the hardest part of your application. A look on the web will provide you many tips and discussions on the method to adopt. My advice is to forget the formalism of French letters of motivation (for French students) and force yourself to focus on the requirements.


What is the Anglo-Saxon personal statement for? The goal is to know who you are, why you are here, what you will do afterwards and how you are going to fit in.


Schematically, you can build your letter as follows (one page maximum, often 500 words for the UK):


  • A short teaser module to catch reader’s attention. For the United-States, you can unleash your imagination. A friend talked about Robin Hood, I quoted Bode Miller, another mentioned Jesus, and the three of us were admitted.


  • Explain why you love your topic and what is your project


  • Explain why the year abroad will carry out this project, and how you intend to reap the full benefits of this LL.M. Notice that flattery has no effect on this side of the Atlantic.


  • Talk about you, make them understand that you will integrate well, bring something to the group, become a good alumni and that the class will be better with you than another.


This was the overall plan of my personal statement. Another tip is to strive you to link each idea with the LL.M., just as if you were asked to “stick to the judgment”. If there is a step to which you must devote time, this is the one. Indeed, university offices are used to reading good personal statements and you will have to stand out with your personality rather than with your academic curriculum. 


Chronicles: Matthieu Sabonnadière


Translation (French to English): Coline Vériaux


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